A group of veterans recently challenged themselves physically to make a difference in regard to PTSD, as June is PTSD Awareness Month.
Seven combat-wounded veterans just completed a five-day PTSD Century Hike across Kansas and Missouri to raise PTSD awareness.
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is known to be common among veterans who return home from combat.
Seven out of every 100 veterans will have PTSD at some point in their life, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs says.
Army veteran Chad Prichard of Colorado led six other veterans through the 105-mile hike — which started on June 5 at the Whiteman Air Force Base in Warrensburg, Missouri, and ended in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, on June 9.
Pritchard, brought up in the Midwest, struggled with substance abuse before he became a runner.
The Army veteran deployed to Iraq in 2003 — and when he returned home, he struggled with drugs and alcohol for years, he said.
By 2012, Prichard was homeless and struggling to find a way out of his addictions.
A friend of his heard he was struggling and reached out to help, giving him an apartment to live in while he figured out his next steps.
Eventually, Prichard became sober and started living a much healthier life — and was able to hike over 100 miles in one Midwest summer.
Prichard spoke with Fox News Digital when he was 56 miles into the hike on day three, explaining more about the fourth annual event and the difference it makes in veterans’ lives.
“It’s all to support and raise awareness for PTSD, veteran suicide and mental health,” he said of the hike.
The first hike took place in Colorado in 2020 when he and other veterans decided to take the initiative in combating some of the mental health issues that veterans struggle with in their lives.
Now, after two other hikes in Arizona and Oklahoma, Prichard said the annual event has gained traction.
They welcome anyone who’s interested to join in the hike.
Prichard creates the route and directs the others throughout the adventure — all while raising money for Semper Fi & America’s Fund.
Semper Fi & America’s Fund, headquartered in Camp Pendleton, California, is an organization that provides financial assistance and support for critically wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. It also assists military families in need, according to the organization’s website.
The hikes can be extremely challenging, Pritchard said, noting that although he is an ultra-marathoner, he, too, must train before the hike.
“I highly recommend training for these things … It’s not easy for me, either,” he said,
“You just learn that you’re not alone, and you have resources – and each other.”
Various elements including the weather can make the hike even more challenging, he noted.
The temperature was in the mid-90s and humidity was high when Pritchard spoke to Fox News Digital by phone near Longview Lake, Missouri.
The most motivated he feels is when talking with the other veterans hiking alongside him, emphasizing that this what keeps him putting one foot in front of the other, he said.
“We start getting deep with one another and share some things that have happened to us — why are we here,” he said.
“I think just kind of getting out of your head and talking with one another has probably been the most beneficial to get through it [the hike].”
Pritchard personally has found significant growth from taking these hikes with other veterans.
The most beneficial part of the hikes for him has been meeting others that have gone through some of the same life experiences he has — and through that, creating new friendships.
“You just learn that you’re not alone, and you have resources — and each other,” he said.
The humility involved is also eye-opening, he also said.
“I just learn that humility is probably the best thing for all of us to get from this, because these things [the hikes] are what you make of them,” he said.
For more information on how to support Semper Fi & America’s Fund, visit thefund.org.